- Title: Former Scottish First Minister Salmond cleared of sex crimes - BBC
- Date: 23rd March 2020
- Summary: EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND, UK (FILE - SEPTEMBER 18, 2014) (REUTERS) YES SIGN NO ACTIVISTS PLACING NO SANDWICH BOARD NEXT TO POLLING STATION
- Keywords: Alex Salmond Nicola Sturgeon Scotland independence referendum Scottish National Party
- Reuters ID: LVA002C6AS1FR
- Location: VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- City: VARIOUS LOCATIONS
- Country: United Kingdom
- Duration: 00:00:10
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Story Text: Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, a figurehead of Scotland's independence movement, has been cleared of committing multiple sex offenses against nine women, the BBC reported.
Salmond was found not guilty on Monday (March 23) by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh of 13 charges including attempted rape, sexual assault and indecent assault.
Salmond, who led the devolved Scottish government for seven years until 2014 and helped drive growing support for Scottish independence as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), had denied any wrongdoing.
In 2018, Salmond took legal action against the Scottish devolved government now led by his successor and protege Nicola Sturgeon over how it handled a complaints process against him in a sexual harassment case.
Salmond, who denied any wrongdoing, won a judicial review earlier this month on how that case was handled by the Scottish government when it conceded it had acted unlawfully in probing the harassment claims.
He became leader of the SNP in 1990. A decade later he gave up being a Scottish Member of Parliament for a seat in Westminster. The SNP was led by John Swinney from 2000 for four years, until Salmond took the leadership reigns again.
Salmond is credited with unifying and strengthening a party made up of a hotch-potch of Scots who wanted independence for varying reasons.
He was born on New Year's Eve - the Scottish festival of Hogmanay - in 1954, to civil servant parents, and raised in government-subsidised housing in Linlithgow, near Edinburgh.
Described by former school friends as clever and quiet as a boy, he won a place at the prestigious St. Andrew's University in Scotland, where he studied medieval history and economics, and encountered the perks of privilege. St. Andrew's has always been popular with upper-class English students, and people close to Salmond said the experience instilled in him a resentment of wealthy southerners directing Scotland - a view common among Scottish voters.
Salmond joined the SNP in 1974 while he was at university. The political landscape in Scotland was shifting and the party, founded in 1934, was ripe for change. The North Sea started to produce oil in 1975, giving Scotland an unprecedented financial footing and making independence seem credible.
The SNP was the perfect vehicle for Salmond, who has made prosperity and Scotland's right to decide how to spend its wealth a cornerstone of his independence campaign. He continued as a party activist while working at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, where he met his wife, Moira, who is 17 years his senior; and later at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Former colleagues there describe him as a workaholic, fiercely competitive and possessed of an almost photographic memory.
In a fractious party, that helped. In 1979, the SNP was riven by factionalism after a Scottish vote on devolution failed. Some wanted all-out independence; others were content with more powers. Salmond was pragmatic, arguing that devolution was a step towards the real goal, independence.
By the late 1980s, with many Scots angered about a new poll tax by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, Salmond seized his chance. SNP members united in opposition to London and he emerged as a modern leader ready to reposition the party as more socially democratic and pro-European.
(Production: Tara Oakes)
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